Adopting and training a new kitty can be hard work. You’ve gone through all the necessary paperwork, have your kitty acquainted to their new home… the next logical question is: how do I get my kitten to use the litter box?
Apart from cats getting lost or allergies in the family, one of the biggest reasons cats get abandoned is house soiling. Sometimes families just can’t take the mess. While this is understandable, it’s also totally avoidable. Thus, knowing how to litter train a kitten is essential to being a good cat parent.
Most of the time kittens will use the litter box instinctively. But sometimes they won’t. The truth is, burying the “evidence” is ingrained in their DNA. It shouldn’t be a big ordeal to litter train your kitten. As long as you provide a clean, private and roomy litter box and make sure your new kitty knows where it is, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
When To Start Litter Box Training Kittens
You’ll be happy to hear that litter training a kitten is not quite as rigorous as potty training a puppy. Cats, like most animals, follow their instincts. Once they see mommy using the litter box they will follow suit. That’s why it’s a bit harder to litter train a kitten without their mother. Usually, kittens will start using the litter box at around 3 or 4 weeks of age.
It’s recommended that kittens stay with their mother and littermates for at least 12 weeks. This is so the kitty can learn from its mother and socialize among their littermates to eventually grow up to be a well-rounded cat. This is the time they are developing their senses, learning to groom, socializing and forming adult sleeping habits.
As a result, if you’re adopting a kitten, they should already be well-acquainted with the litter box and how to use it.
However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything. When bringing your new kitten home, you’ll have to make the necessary introductions to their new surroundings. First of all, make sure the litter tray is in a safe and quiet place. You don’t want any distractions or loud noises that might spook kitty and make them afraid to use the litter box.
Next, make sure kitty actually knows where the box is. After meal time you can gently pick and place the kitten into their new potty. Their instincts will take care of the rest.
Type of Litter
Another important thing to consider is the best kind of litter for your kitten.
When it comes to litter, the needs of a kitten are different from the needs of a full-grown cat. Young cats sometimes have a tendency to ingest litter. Sometimes it’s on purpose and sometimes not. Kittens are known to play in the litter box, and still being goofy and uncoordinated can lead to accidents.
Because of this, it’s important to get litter that’s not toxic and won’t cause any harm if a little bit is swallowed. Clumping cat litter (usually made from clay) is very popular among cat parents and is usually the go-to choice. The clumps allow for easy cleanup and provide some odor control. However these clumps quickly become saturated and require pretty much daily maintenance to keep the odors to a minimum.
On the other hand, crystal cat litter is silica-based litter that comes in the form of tiny crystals. Being big and porous, these silica gel beads are usually better at odor control when compared to clay-based clumping litters. This litter type is popular for use with self-cleaning litter boxes.
Bottom line is to keep an eye on your kitten around the litter box and opt for a natural, pellet-based litter. This will decrease the chance of it being inhaled or chomped on. Once your kitty has gotten to be a few months old, you can start testing out different types of litters to see which both of you like best.
How Often Do Kittens Use the Litter Box?
Some new cat parents will get a little worried at the frequency (or infrequency) of their kitty using the litter box.
Most of the time it’s not a cause for concern. Kittens being 3-4 times a day could use poo in their litter tray up to 4 times per day. That may seem like a lot, but a little kitty can only hold so much in their tiny body, so it’s totally normal.
As their digestive system matures, you can expect this number to drop to about to about twice a day. It’s more important that the feces looks normal than the amount of time you kitten is going.
If your kitty doesn’t seem to going enough, this may be a result of not enough moisture in their diet. The feces will be all dried up and be more difficult to pass. Cats rely on wet food as their primary source of water, so make sure you’re feeding your kitty plenty of it. If you have questions about a kitten’s diet, check out our post on how to pick the best food for you kitten.
Save litter box lids and fancy automatic litter boxes for later. Right now your kitten needs a small, shallow litter pan that is really easy to get in and out of.
What Size Litter Box Should I Get My Kitten?
Any obstacles between your fickle kitty and their potty may cause your kitten to stop using the litter box. And we don’t want that, do we? Therefore, tall and covered boxes are out for now. Although both may come in handy later on in your cat’s life.
Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to get two shallow litter boxes instead of one; especially if you have more than one cat. Cat’s get very territorial and will even sometimes resort to laying in the litter box to prevent the other from encroaching on their turf.
If you have a bigger house, it’s best to opt for the second litter box. Ready availability is important, especially during the formative years. Make it extremely easy for your kitten to find the litter pan and you shouldn’t have any major incidents.
My last tip on this subject is simple: keep the litter box clean! As I said before, cats are sanitary creatures and like their potty to be neat and tidy. If it’s not, you may have to break out the soap and vinegar and scrub the carpet. If accidents do happen, kitty’s will tend to pick a spot and use it repeatedly. Use some of the smells cats hate to deter the use of that spot and drive them back to their litter box.